Poem in Your Pocket

Sit awhile.  Make yourself comfortable.

Sit awhile.
Make yourself comfortable.

Finally, snow! A good 12 inches in town… 27 inches up 500-feet higher – and although that snow is up, it will eventually run down and green up the ranching valley floor.

As synchronicity would have it, I stumbled across a leftover poem this morning that spoke to me and the weather. The poem, “A Cold Spring” by Elizabeth Bishop, is a leftover in that it was one of multiple copies that I had printed out some years ago in celebration of  national Poem in Your Pocket Day.

To celebrate the day, you make copies of a poem (yours or someone else’s), put the copies in your pocket, and pass the poems on to friends throughout the day. So save the date! This year Poem in Your Pocket Day is Thursday, April 24. Mark your calendar now. It is not too early to think ahead to what poem you will use.

The Bishop poem is as follows:

A COLD spring: / The violet was flawed on the lawn. / For two weeks or more the trees hesitated: / The little leaves waited, / Carefully indicating their characteristics. / Finally a grave green dust / Settled over your big aimless hills. / One day, / In the chill white blast of sunshine, / On the other side of one a calf was born. / The mother stopped lowing / And took a long time eating the after-birth, / A wretched flag,  / But the calf got up promptly / And seemed to feel gay. / The next day was much warmer.

2014 03 08 snow 004Once the roads are plowed, I should get in the car and see how the early born calves are doing.

The sun dazzles. Already the snow is sloughing off the roof in thunderous small avalanches. Sitting inside the toasty airlock on the east side of our house, I wear a hat and sunglasses to save my eyes. Outside the temperature is 27 degrees; inside the airlock, I bask on “the beach.”

I mentioned to a friend that I had taken to saying, “I’m off to sit on the beach.” And no sooner had I said it, then she brought me a discarded sound machine. So now, I can sit on the beach and listen to the surf. Any kind of surf that I want. Today I’ve chosen lazy, long rollers that kiss the shore with a hiss.

It’s a snowshoeing day, but given my slow-to-heal stress-fracture, I’ve walked Main Street, but I’m not walking far. Perhaps it is time to close out one orange notebook and begin another. My orange books are legion. I never leave home without one. The book that is complete and ready for the file box is dated 18 November, 2013. It is full of snippets – everything from grocery lists to addresses to websites to observations to wool-gathering to…

Recently, on a wander through Barnes and Noble, I came across a compilation of Emily Dickinson‘s poems. The Gorgeous Nothings is a weighty, coffee table book. It was edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin who collected and photographed 52 poem fragments and drafts that the thrifty, New Englander wrote on the backs of envelopes. The envelopes are life-size facsimiles and because some of the fragments are hard to read, a translation runs to the side.

emily envelope 2What a treat to read this book! It feels a bit naughty… as though you are looking through someone’s private papers. It is enough to make you look over your shoulder to see if anyone is catching you in the act. Holland Cotter writing in the New York Times, Dec. 5, 2013, was struck by how the scraps of envelope… the shapes… echo (or maybe inspired) the poem itself.

Cotter wrote:  “The way / Hope builds his / House” is written on a piece of house-shaped paper. A poem that reads “One note from / One bird / Is better than / A million words” is squeezed onto a wedge-shaped scrap – half of a flap? – that suggests a wing.

I am reminded of a piece that ran some years ago in the London Times. The British Library was concerned that with the increasing use of email and the near death of snail-mail, letters- a valuable source for historical research- were in danger of being lost. To counter this loss, the British Library was calling on all notables: Save your emails and donate them to us.

I’ll save my orange notebooks. You save your emails.



About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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8 Responses to Poem in Your Pocket

  1. Brent says:

    I’ve marked the date. Our new town resident and friend Cathy Snow, places poems in a Take One container on the edge of her property, located on Main St, just down from the Jones Theater. Take one next time your passing by and don’t have a poem in your pocket.

  2. timeout2 says:

    Another date that you and Bar might want to note is the first weekend in March 2015. (Too late this year – I was off by one weekend.) Skijoring in Leadville. A bit more free-form than the Olympics – a sport for the rest of us. I’ll look for the poems – thanks for the heads up.

  3. PJ Bindley says:

    This one goes down as one of my favorites. 🙂

  4. Monica says:

    Itwss a wonderful snow!!

    • timeout2 says:

      The snow in itself was wonderful, but the thrills and chills of being caught in it without four-wheel drive and without a cell phone, was a sobering experience. Thank you for sharing our adventure with us. We did have two blankets in the car. And a water bottle.

  5. Richard Pohanish says:

    A wonderful thought. To the tough crowd in Sedona I might have to pass out Dangerous Dan McGrew or They’re Hanging Danny Dever in the Morning. On the other hand… poetry is poetry. D


    • timeout2 says:

      I see no reason to pass judgment on “Dangerous Dan McGrew.” My dad was a great reader of popular poetry. His Welsh heritage, I think. I have wonderful memories of his reading aloud – poems too numerous to mention, but in particular, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” And something that had a refrain… “and the goblins will get you if you don’t watch out” which he would read in a scary voice and end with a tickle. “Little Orphan Annie”… I think.

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